(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon’s elementary, middle and high school students know how to spell “normal,” and it begins with the resumption of extracurricular routines. Southern Oregon University’s Pre-College Youth Programs gave the region’s students an opportunity to restart one tradition when it coordinated the recent Regional Spelling Contest for 2021, following a two-year interruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many schools in the area were unable to hold their individual spelling competitions in 2020, and the State Spelling Contest – organized by Oregon Spellers (www.OregonSpellers.org) and usually held in Salem each year – was canceled for both 2020 and 2021.
SOU Youth Programs was determined to offer a regional competition in 2021 for students in Jackson and Josephine counties, and was able to do so with backing from the Lithia4Kids Foundation. SOU worked with coordinators from schools and school districts throughout southern Oregon to establish virtual competition rules that would challenge students to bring their best to the spelling contest.
The regional finals, held on May 15, yielded winners for Jackson and Josephine counties in each of three categories: for students in grades 1 through 5, 6 through 8 and 9 through 12. The first- and second-place winners in this year’s spelling competition are:
First Place: Ryleigh Ho, grade 5, Hoover Elementary, Medford School District
Second Place: Nolan Linthorst, grade 5, Mae Richardson, Central Point School District
First Place: Blake Greenwell, grade 6, Logos Public Charter School, Medford School District
Second Place: Lia Hall, grade 8, The Valley School, Medford School District
First Place: April Hanson, grade 11, Logos Public Charter School, Medford School District
April was declared the winner of Division 3 in Jackson County, after competing and taking first place at Logos Public Charter School, which was the only school in Jackson County to submit a winners list to participate at the Division 3 level.
The Three Rivers School District swept the Josephine County competition because it was the only district in the county to submit winners lists for any division.
First Place: Lior Shapira, grade 5, Williams Elementary, Three Rivers School District
First Place: Cozmo Castaldi Neubauer, grade 8, Lorna Byrne Middle School, Three Rivers School District
First Place: Rory Forsythe-Elder, grade 10, Illinois Valley High School, Three Rivers School District